Convoy veterans pin hopes on new medal review man

REVIEW John Holmes
REVIEW John Holmes
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ARCTIC Convoy veterans hope Sir John Holmes’s diplomatic service in Russia will work in their favour when he reviews their claim for a war medal.

The ageing Second World War veterans, who ran a freezing gauntlet of Nazi planes and ships to supply the Soviet Union, are treated as heroes in Russia and have been awarded medals by the Kremlin.

The history of their daring missions in the Arctic is taught in Russian schools and they are celebrated the land over for playing a key role in defeating Adolf Hitler.

But their service has never been singled out for a British campaign medal and David Cameron has now set up a new, independent review of their case.

As revealed by The News yesterday, Sir John will be the man with the power to end 66 years of waiting.

And his work in the British Embassy in Moscow in the 1970s could prove to be vital.

Arctic veteran Lieutenant Commander Dick Dykes, 92, said: ‘Not many people know much about the Arctic Convoys in Britain – we’ve largely been forgotten about.

‘But in Russia it’s a huge deal. We kept them fighting in the war and they are very grateful to us for that.

‘Hopefully, the time John Holmes spent in Russia will mean he understands how highly the Arctic Convoys are regarded by the Russian people. It’s disgraceful that we have medals from the Russian government but still nothing from our own country.’

As well as working in Russia, experienced Sir John, 61, was knighted in 1999 following his role in the Northern Ireland peace talks. He has also been the British ambassador to France and Portugal and was in a senior role at the United Nations from 2007 to 2010.

An announcement in Parliament confirming his new job and the start of the latest review into war medals is understood to be imminent.

It follows a review by the Ministry of Defence which was abandoned by Mr Cameron after 16 months.